On November 29, 2022 at approximately 10:10 p.m., Lieutenant Michael DeGrazio was patrolling in the area of Stonebridge Road and Graham Terrace in an unmarked police vehicle in response to residential burglaries that had occurred in the Township within the last week. While on Stonebridge Road, Lieutenant DeGrazio observed a male walking in the street but quickly lost sight of him. This subject was wearing all dark clothing including a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark pants, and white garden type gloves. Lieutenant DeGrazio ultimately parked his vehicle and began walking the area.
After a few minutes, Lieutenant DeGrazio heard screaming coming from the area of Stonebridge Road. Moments later, he heard footsteps on the pavement of what sounded like someone running. Seconds later, the same male that he had previously observed was now running at a full sprint, east on Graham Terrace. Lieutenant DeGrazio, who was in full police uniform, ordered the individual to stop. The suspect refused and continued running. Lieutenant DeGrazio engaged in a foot pursuit after the suspect.
As Lieutenant DeGrazio was chasing after the suspect on foot, Officer Kevin Ortiz, who was off-duty at the time and was nearby, observed Lieutenant DeGrazio engaged in the foot pursuit.
Officer Ortiz pursued after the suspect on foot and up a driveway at which time the suspect turned and pointed a handgun at Officer Ortiz. Officer Ortiz, who was unarmed, struck the suspect causing the gun to fall to the ground. At this time, the suspect was taken to the ground and placed under arrest by Officer Ortiz and Lieutenant DeGrazio. A loaded 9mm handgun was recovered from the suspect.
As Lieutenant DeGrazio and Officer Ortiz were placing the suspect under arrest, Montclair Police Dispatch transmitted over the air that an armed robbery just occurred on Stonebridge Road. The victim in that robbery reported that he was on a ladder outside of his home fixing a security light. While on the ladder, he was approached by the suspect who pointed a handgun at the victim and said, “Give me the keys to the car.” The suspect was shaking the ladder with his left hand and had the handgun in his right hand. The victim began to scream at which time the suspect fled on foot towards Graham Terrace where he was intercepted by Lieutenant DeGrazio. The victim then called 911.
The suspect, Tashawn Hall, a 19 year-old-male from East Orange, was charged with Armed Robbery, Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, Aggravated Assault – Pointing a Firearm at a Law Enforcement Officer, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Possession of a Defaced Firearm, Obstruction, and Eluding. He was remanded to the Essex County Correctional Facility.
“I commend these officers for their quick actions and bravery in apprehending this armed robbery suspect,” said Chief of Police Todd Conforti. “Lt. Degrazio relied on his instincts and experience in further investigating this individual, resulting in his immediate pursuit and apprehension. Officer Ortiz, while off-duty, did not hesitate to assist in pursuing and detaining this armed subject. The fact that this suspect had just committed an armed robbery, and then pointed a loaded firearm at these officers illustrates the dangers that police face every day. I cannot put into words how proud I am of these officers.”